Thursday, October 25, 2012

Teaching Kids About Down Syndrome

Several weeks ago, I visited Antalya's Kindergarten class to talk to her classmates about Down syndrome. This was an entirely new experience for me, and one that I thought I wouldn't have to take on until at least 1st grade, but the more Jason and I watched her with her classmates and talked about it, we decided it needed to happen. I got some great ideas from this blog.

Here's a run down of what I did; hopefully it can help out someone else.

I started by asking all the kids to look around and name all the things they saw about each other that was the same (all have noses, eyes, hair, shoes, etc). Then I asked them to look around and tell me some of the things that were different (hair color/length, size, clothes, eye color, etc). Then I told them I was going to read them a story about two little kids that were best friends. And I asked them to listen for all the things that were the same about the kids, and all the things that were different. Then I read My Friend Isabelle by Eliza Woloson (a great book about a little boy who is normal developing and a little girl with Down syndrome).

When the book was finished we talked about some of the differences between the two kids. Then I told them that like the little girl in the book, Antalya was born with something called Down syndrome. I didn't get too technical, but just mentioned that inside all of our bodies are chromosomes that tell our body what color hair we will have, what things we will be good at, what color our eyes will be, etc. Most people are born with 46 chromosomes, but Antalya was born with 47. Because she has one more, it makes some things easier for her, and some things a lot harder for her.

I talked to them about some of the things that are really easy for Antalya (she's flexible, she's really good at sharing, she's good at showing love and is a really good friend, and I threw in the fact that she is better on computers and iPhones then most adults). Then I had the class tell me some of the things they have noticed that are really hard for Antalya. Some of the things that came up were that it's hard for her to keep her shoes on :), it's hard for her to keep her hands to herself, it's hard for her to write, and that it is really hard to understand what she says. We talked about what to do if she starts playing with their hair, bugging them, or just won't keep her hands to herself (One sweet girl raised her hand and said Antalya likes to play her hair, I reminded her that she can tell the teacher if Antalya doesn't stop. But she quickly said, "no, I like when she does!").

Then I had all the kids put a big marshmallow in their mouth and try to tell me what they ate for breakfast. They thought it was hilarious that they couldn't understand each other. I explained that that is what it is like for Antalya - because her tongue is bigger, it's like she's always trying to talk with a marshmallow in her mouth.

We ended with talking about some of the things they could do to help Antalya. Then I gave all the kids a coloring book to take home so they could tell their families about Down syndrome (I didn't use all the pages; I took out the ones I thought weren't necessary). Overall, it went really good, and I was really glad that I did it.

9 comments:

F-A-N-G-U-P-O said...

That is so awesome, and what a great explanation. Antayla is beautiful! I love her school picture :)

Olivia Carter said...

Fantastic job! And her school picture is just the sweetest thing on the planet. That smile has SO MUCH joy in it!

catherine gardner said...

You know Sunny when I was growing up in the 1950's we kids were afraid of Downs children. They were kept indoors and if any of them managed to "escape" we would all run away from them. I wish someone was able to do what you did and bring it down to a childs level of understanding. Well done Sunny you did a splendid job.

Jan said...

You are an amazing mommy, Sunny. It sounds like you did an incredible job and very well suited to her grade level, too. Way to go the extra mile for Antalya, which you always do!

Stuart and Sarah said...

That is amazing and I am sure something those kids will ALWAYS remember. Great job Sunny, you are an amazing mommy to Antalya. She is so lucky to have you

dennisandsong said...

Love your blog. It's nice to hear and see someone going through the same things we are. I pulled Viv from school this year (she was in a self contained class and I felt she wasn't being challenged enough) it's been fun and challenging having her home with me! I appreciate your ideas and what you did with her class, I might try to do something like this for her primary class!

PORTAL INFORMATIVO FUNDOWN CARIBE said...

Please give me the link to the coloring book . It´s broke

PORTAL INFORMATIVO FUNDOWN CARIBE said...

Please give me the link to the coloring book . It´s broke

GPatxot said...

Do you have a link to the coloring book? The link on here takes you to a coupon page...